Beginning in January 2024, all young service missionaries will be integrated into teaching missions under the leadership of mission presidents.
Service missionaries will continue to report to a service mission leader couple who will work under the priesthood keys of the mission president. The service mission leader couple currently provides — and will continue to provide — day-to-day supervision and assistance to each young service missionary.
The announcement was made in a letter dated Sept. 21, 2023, from the Missionary Department to general and local priesthood leaders.
Integrating service missionaries into the traditional mission structure is an inspired step in the forward progress of missionary work, said Elder Marcus B. Nash, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department. “Both service missionaries and teaching missionaries are important to the call to gather Israel. As the teaching and service missionaries fulfill their respective missionary roles under the loving direction of their mission presidents, missionary work will be enhanced, and the missionaries — both service and teaching — will be uplifted and blessed through their association.”
The purpose of a service mission is “to help others come unto Christ by serving them as the Savior would.”
Worthy young men ages 18-25 may serve a service mission for six to 24 months, and young women ages 19-29 may serve a service mission for six to 18 months, as close to full time as their capability and circumstances allow. These missionaries live at home and serve locally, and each young man or young woman is provided a customized mission experience tailored to his or her talents, skills and gifts.
The key objectives of a service mission are to:
- Provide an opportunity for all willing young women and young men to serve the Lord and increase in testimony of Him.
- Help each service missionary prepare for a lifetime of service.
- Provide needed and valuable service to Church and community organizations.
Service mission leaders provide supervision, support and are “a vital link between the mission president, stake presidents, service missionaries, parents and charitable partners,” the letter says.
According to the letter, the local stake president and bishop will continue to function as the ecclesiastical leaders and conduct regular worthiness interviews with each young service missionary.
The families of young service missionaries will also continue to be responsible for providing emotional and physical care for each missionary.
The role of the mission leaders will be to “love, teach and inspire young service missionaries, primarily in zone conferences and other scheduled settings.” Mission leaders will receive instructions on the integration beginning in October 2023.
Like full-time teaching missionaries, service missionaries receive their mission calls from President Russell M. Nelson. “Under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, each prospective missionary who qualifies will receive a call that best suits him or her,” said a letter signed by President Nelson and his counselors and sent Nov. 16, 2018, to Church leaders.
“All missionaries called by the Prophet — regardless of their assignment — are representatives of Jesus Christ and on His errand to bless and serve God’s children,” said Elder Nash. “It is one great work, and the missionaries are pivotal to it.”
The General Handbook, the Handbook for Mission Leaders and “Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ — Service Missions” will all be updated to reflect the change.
— This article was updated on Sept. 28, 2023.